Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Plaintext + Dropbox = Ubiquitous Text

I am loving this. If you blog or like to jot down notes while on the go then I highly recommend the following setup.


Dropbox is a small cloud-based utility that synchronizes files between all your devices. It works on PC, Mac, iOS, Android and Blackberry.  It even has a web interface that you can browse from any computer, and even track previous versions of files. Best of all, it's free (for 2Gb of storage).

There are a number of applications that use Dropbox as their storage medium. My favorite so far is PlainText.


PlainText is a bare bones text editor with a minimal UI that uses Dropbox as it's file system. Simply download to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, login with your Dropbox account and your data magically syncs each time you touch the contents. Only limitation is that it doesn't have the ability to move files to different folders, but I can do that on my PC.

Now it's possible for me to sketch down an idea on my iPhone while riding the subway or streetcar, then pickup where I left off and flesh out the details on my iPad while watching TV. I can even switch between devices with almost no wait, so I can proof read or work through an idea whenever I have a free moment.

Getting started

Setup is easy.  On your PC or Mac, go to Dropbox and setup an account, the software will download on the next page.  Install the application and associate it to your user account. The free version gives you 2 GB of storage (more if you enlist your friends) and they offer more storage through paid upgrades.

On your iOS device, download PlainText.  In the settings, link it to your Dropbox account.


PlainText by default will create a folder in your Dropbox called “PlainText”.  This is helpful so that you’re only syncing small files.  Here’s a quick screen-capture of the available settings.

Photo Feb 06, 2 33 00 PM

You can create files and folders on your iOS device.  Any changes will automatically sync to your PC/Mac.


Disclosure: This is not a paid advertisement, I just really like this configuration.  I should point out that the links to sign-up are to my referral page.  If you are vehemently opposed to this you can visit the site referral free here: https://www.dropbox.com/